The Historic Asticou Inn: Northeast Harbor, Maine

Acadia National Park is a National Park located in northern Maine. It reserves much of Mount Desert Island and smaller islands off the New England Atlantic coast. Northeast Harbor, Bar Harbor and Acadia are not quick jaunts from our area, but with so many great places to stop along the Maine seacoast as you travel north and east, it is a must-do for all of us during the warm summer months.

Over the years, I have noticed that my friends who make the trip every summer do so because they are looking for solitude, exercise and perhaps, total escape. Packing for a getaway to this region can be as simple as books, swim suit, jeans, hiking shoes and/or sneakers, camera and sun screen. Whether you are camping in the park or staying at an Inn or resort, these simple choices in preparation can work!

One great accommodation is the Asticou Inn. If you put the most beautiful views in this country up for a vote, then used the results of that vote for placing an Inn location, The Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor, Maine would be the winner. It is comfortable and a perfect fit for the rugged beauty of the landscape.

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Like so many of the Inns in Maine, The Asticou is rich with history hosting many of the country’s earliest millionaires who wanted to enjoy the rustic setting and escape the city heat. These folks were aptly named the “rusticators”. Walking through the lobby can certainly bring you back to the days when the wealthiest from New York City– the likes of the Roosevelts, Astors and Rockefellers – would enjoy the clean, fresh break. Nearby the Inn is Thulya Gardens, a stunning color display with walking paths and waters.

The Asticou Azalea Gardens are a mere walk across the road for the Asticou Inn and they are equally, if not more, spectacular.

After a busy day of sightseeing, return to the Inn for unpretentious (because the beauty is enough to impress), but excellent food. Made fresh with local ingredients (Maine blueberries at the head of the list) it makes for some incredible dishes to enjoy with family or a certain someone.

I mention a certain someone because this northern most region of Maine is a romantic spot; partly because of the solitude, but mostly because of the harbor and ocean views. This particular harbor, Northeast Harbor, is magical. The craggy coastline with the deep blue harbor waters and sail boats dotting the view takes your breath away at any hour of the day and evening, but the sunsets need to shared!

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Prices for lodging, food and entertainment are another reason to venture the few hours beyond the southern coast of Maine. Summer lobster dinners on the southern coast can and do cost double what they are here. Why pay upwards of $50 for a lobster dinner when you can spend $23.95 and still enjoy all that Maine has to offer? Even in the more touristy areas like downtown Bar Harbor, the prices are terrific.

Acadia has five lighthouses spread throughout the bays: Bass Harbor Head, Bear Island, Baker Island, Egg Rock and Great Duck Island lighthouses are visible from various spots in the park. You need only drive through the park to see and take photos of them for your vacation memories.

While many locals will share their fears about the growth to this area, and the park does feel those impacts, the area is still pristine. However, one does get the feeling that now is the time to make the journey and enjoy it before expansion of both tourism and year-long population changes it.

For more information visit www.asticou.com.

 -The Grateful Traveler

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